On the 1228th day of my life, I became a sister. So, for the first almost three and a half years of my existence, I was an only child. But I don’t recall any of life before entering siblinghood.

For many of us with brothers or sisters, being a sibling offers such rich insight into the world of how relationships work most effectively. The Internet is already littered with articles on the perks of having siblings, but they rarely acknowledge that this bond extends far beyond the ability to borrow each other’s clothes and braid each other’s hair. Below is a list of some of the deeper, more meaningful lessons I’ve come to learn from having and being a sister.

Being a sister isn’t for me. It’s for her. Relationships are about give and take, but they are far more fulfilling if each person focuses more on what they can do for the other, than on what they can gain from it.

There is only selfless love. Being a sibling is usually one of our first experiences with this raw, authentic, beautiful love. It means truly wanting the utmost happiness for the other person. Desiring for them even more than what you would ask for yourself.

Relationships go through different seasons. 

People love differently.

Nurture the relationships you value. People have often said to me, “you’re lucky you and your sister are so close”. They’re not entirely wrong. I am blessed to be bound by sisterhood to such an incredible human being. But it’s far more than just luck. We realize the magnificence of this relationship, and we work hard to always make nurturing it a priority.

Competition does not belong within the bounds of siblinghood. My mother always used to tell us that there is enough competition in the world that our sister should never be someone we compete with. Competition is human nature, but there is little place for it in a sibling relationship. Once you accept this, siblinghood will be one of the most secure relationships you have.

To be accepted, you must first accept. I think it’s the rare person who doesn’t desire to be fully accepted—exactly as they already are—by those they care about. And the reality is, if someone truly loves you, they should accept you entirely as you are. It’s completely acceptable for us to want this in our relationships, so long as we remember that we owe the other person the exact same unconditional acceptance.

Love is a choice. Love is far more than a feeling; it is a choice. And it’s one you want to make everyday, in every relationship, and every encounter. Always choose love.